On December 20, 2018, the Consumer Protection Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha. It was originally introduced in January 2018 in the last winter session of Parliament. The Consumer Protection Bill, which will replace the three-decade-old Consumer Protection Act, 1986, will now go to the Rajya Sabha for passage.
However, if the bill sees the light of the day, it will “provide for the protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes,” as stated by the Corporate Affairs ministry.
1.The bill will lead to formation of an executive committee under the Central Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The Central Consumer Protection Authority can intervene whenever it feels it is required to protect the consumers from unfair trade practices. It will have the power to launch a lawsuit against the concerned company besides ordering recall of defective products and issuing refunds to the consumers.
2. It introduces a fresh concept of class action suit where the liability or the legal responsibility of manufacturers or service providers will not be limited to only one group of consumers but towards all the consumers who have been affected by the particular product of the concerned company.
3. The Bill says that if any damage, loss or personal damage is caused to any consumer because of a particular product, all the parties including the manufacturer, producer and seller will be held accountable. If any defects will be noticed in manufacture, design, service and labeling among other issues, strict action will be taken.
4. The bills recommends consumers dispute to be heard by a single entity instead of district, state and national levels. Consumers will get more power after the bill’s passage in the Rajya Sabha. Moreover to look into issues that could be quickly resolved, there will be a consumer mediation cell.
5. To resolve the issues and eliminate flooding of cases, the consumer arbitration cells will be linked to consumer commissions at all levels.
6. The bill increases the liability of the e-commerce firms. All e-commerce firms will have to share more information with the consumers and explain how the firms treat consumer’s personal data.
7. The bill enables the consumers to file a complaint online or in the consumer court from his place of residence. Earlier, the consumer could take legal action only at a place from where the transaction took place.
8. Any renowned personality or celebrity will be held accountable because of false advertisements. The manufacturers and producers will be punished and get minimum two years of imprisonment apart from a minimum fine of Rs 10 lakh. However, the celebrities will no jail term but will have to pay fine.
9. According to the bill, the platforms that provide travel services like airline tickets and hotel bookings will have to take all responsibilities for the services.
10. If any individual files a fake complaint against the company, he will have to pay a penalty from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000.
The Consumer Protection Bill gives more power to the consumers than what they have today. It is much required to strengthen the structure and benefit the consumers.
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